A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Red Sox Witness Celtics’ Fourth Quarter Collapse to Sixers
BOSTON, MA.—With World Series champions Derek Lowe, Mark Belhorn and Kevin Youkilis in attendance, the Boston Celtics spoiled the debut of Coach Glenn Doc Rivers by relinquishing a lead that got as large as 18 points in the third quarter. After trailing 80-64 with 2:46 remaining in the third quarter, The Sixers went on a 14-3 run at the start of the fourth quarter. A three point basket by Willie Green (11 points) with 3:35 remaining in regulation gave Philadelphia its first lead of the game (93-95) since Iverson’s free throw gave Philadelphia a one point lead with 4.4 seconds to play in the first half (50-51). The Sixers never looked back from there.
The victory was the first for former Celtic’s and current 76er’s Coach Jim O’Brien. “I think the difference between the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth quarter is that we pressured the heac out of the ball in the fourth quarter,” said Coach O’Brien after the game. “To hold an offensive team like that to twelve points (in the fourth quarter) speaks to the pressure.”
Kyle Korver finished the game with 12 points (4-for-8 from the deep end), including back to back threes that pulled Philly to within one point (86-85) with 8:40 remaining in the game. “That’s exactly what we expected of Kyle and the surprise was he didn’t shoot a little higher percentage,” said Coach O’Brien when commenting on the play of the former Creighton standout. “He got some great looks. And I believe that Allen had something like five assists in that fourth quarter. That combination of Allen and Kyle is going to be very important for us as this year goes on.”
“When I was running on the break, all I was thinking in my head is I’m looking for the White guy with the black jersey on,” added AI. “I think I play with him so well. When I get the ball on the break, I’m always looking for him. I’m always looking for him and he always has his hands up waiting on me.”
Korver picked up his fifth personal foul when he fouled Pierce with 8:27 remaining but Coach O’Brien opted to keep him in the game. “I’m just glad that Coach had confidence in me to keep me in there and give me those shots. I should have made a bunch more,” said Korver.
After sinking the front end of two free throws from the foul by Korver, Pierce was only able to manage two points (both free throws) for the remainder of the game. For some reason, Pierce didn’t demand the ball. And when Pierce did have the ball in his possession, he didn’t attack the basket and try to foul Korver out of the game. “I was a little bit surprised. I don’t know if he was a little bit tired, if they were trying to run some other stuff, or what it was but we weren’t really changing our game plan. But yeah, I was a little surprised,” admitted Korver after the game.
Paul Pierce had a chance to send the game into overtime when he received a pass from Gary Payton. Pierce had a wide open look from beyond the arc as time was expiring, but the ball caromed off of the front of the rim to seal the Sixer victory (95-98).
The Truth scored a game-high 35 points (10-for-23 from the field, 1-for-6 from beyond the arc, 14-for-18 from the line), grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds, and tied Payton for the game-high in assists with eight. Pierce also added two steals but had five turnovers.
“Paul hit some unbelievable shots,” praised Pierce’s former coach Jim O’Brien. “We defended Paul well a couple of times. He has a way of just putting that elbow on your nose and just releasing it and getting shots. I think Kyle did a really strong job on Paul but when you’re playing a superstar like Pierce, you’re going to sometimes get burned even when you’re defending well.”
“You got to give Paul Pierce credit,” added Coach Doc Rivers. “He gave up the ball, he gave guys great shots. We probably had 10 shots down the stretch that I would beg to get every night. So give Paul Pierce the credit tonight because I thought, first of all, he brought us back; I think he had eight assists; 13 rebounds; and he kind of trusted his teammates. That’s what you want your star to do. Create.”
“I got real close to getting that sixth a few times,” Korver admitted. “I was still trying to play aggressive. If you play soft on Paul Pierce, he’s going to kill you.”
Allen Iverson, who was guarded throughout the game by Gary Payton (five fouls) and Ricky Davis (five fouls), led the Sixers with 30 points (13-for-22 from the field, 3-for-9 from beyond the arc, 1-for-5 from the charity stripe). The playmaker also led the 76ers with six assists and contributed two steals.
There has been reports of how Iverson will adapt to his new role under Coach Oï¿½Brien, and BubbaChuck has this to say about it:
“I’ve always been an aggressive scorer. I always felt that, in my career, if nobody else couldn’t do it I could. I always felt like that. And it’s not anything selfish with me. It’s just that I feel I’m blessed with the talent that God gave me and I’m confident in myself. But I always had confidence in my teammates my whole career because you can’t win a game without teammates. I don’t get all the rebounds. I don’t score all the points. I don’t play defense on every guy on the court.”
“I honestly think this is going to be the best season of my career. I’ve done things in my career that I’m very proud of. But I think this is going to be my best season just because of the position that I’m put in. just because of the type of game that I’m going to play. I think this is going to be my best season defensively as well because I’ll be put in a situation where I can gamble and not hurt the team. I can put pressure on defenses as far as pushing up the ball. I’m just looking forward to it because I think we have a good concept on both ends of the floor.”
“We just have to have the ability to stay focused throughout the entire 48 minutes,” reflected Coach Rivers. “In a stretch we were up six and we had all our key guys on the floor and we let our guard down. More defensively. And again I thought it was because of our offense. We missed a couple of wide open shots when we had a six point lead. And I thought it carried down to the other end. I thought we were thinking about the misses and we didn’t get back.”
“In the third quarter, we made some adjustments offensively and I thought it worked great,” Rivers continued. “Then when we got the lead it seemed like we stopped doing what we were doing to get that lead. And that’s where we got to stay focused and just stay with what’s working. I like the way we played. I like our efforts. If we played that hard every single night, I like our odds.”
Ricky Davis added 14 points for the Celtics (5-for-9 from the field, 1-for-2 from beyond the arc, perfect three from the charity stripe) and four rebounds (two offensive rebounds) However, Davis was only able to manage two points in the decisive fourth quarter.
“We did shut it down,” commented Ricky D after the game. “Guys came in kind of cold and they had the momentum so we got to stay mentally tough for four quarters. I think if we stay mentally tough for four quarters, we’ll be all right. Guys were clicking good, guys were shooting the ball well. P got hot for us. And, like I said, we got to keep it going through the bench and through everybody else. And not let them cut that lead down.”
Gary Payton couldn’t have enjoyed his first game as a Celtic. The Glove was torched by AI and only managed six points (2-for-4 from the field, 1-for-2 from beyond the arc, perfect one from the line) and had four turnovers and five fouls. Because of the foul trouble Payton only logged six minutes in the fourth quarter. “It hurts us, GP in foul trouble,” explained Davis. “That’s your brain going to the bench.”
The Glove did manage to tie Paul Pierce for a game-high eight assists.
“You like the effort but of course we should have won,” continued Davis. “Being up 10 or 13 (actually 16) points late in the third quarter in the NBA, you can’t lose that lead.”